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Kuruvai crop on 26,000 hectares in Tiruvarur

THIRIUCHIRAPALLI : A total of 12,134 hectares of land had been covered under kuruvai so far and another 14,000 hectares of land will be brought under the crop in the current season in Tiruvarur district, said R. Kamaraj, Minister for Food.

Speaking after distributing agricultural implements under the special kuruvai package for farmers at Valangaiman near here, Mr. Kamaraj said both conventional and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methods of paddy cultivation were being adopted. While 4,820 hectares of land were covered under the conventional method, 7,314 hectares were covered under SRI method.

The special package complete with fertilisers, bio-fertilisers, pesticides, and borewell pipes has imbued confidence in farmers, he said.

Under the package, farmers would get free implements worth Rs. 4.32 crore before the end of the month.

The inputs under the scheme included 1,589 tonnes of gypsum worth Rs. 55.60 lakh, micronutrients worth Rs. 29.12 lakh. Pesticides worth Rs. 48.14 lakh would be given as part of the package. The Agriculture Department would focus on popularising SRI technique among farmers and demonstration sessions would be held in select villages under the National Agriculture Development Programme and National Food Security Mission to benefit 14,152 paddy cultivators. M. Ganesan,

Additional Director of Seeds, and P. Manimaran, District Revenue Officer, spoke.

The Minister distributed free inputs worth Rs.2.70 lakh to 95 farmers.

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Rice cultivation machinery displayed at TNAU

The only way to address the problem of depleting resources in terms of labour, land and water, is by mechanising cultivation. The human drudgery involved in field operations necessitates the development of improved machinery to provide quality employment to youth in farming,” Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University K. Ramasamy said here on Friday.

Speaking at a demonstration of rice cultivation machinery of a private company at the university’s wetland farms at Poosaripalayam, the Vice-Chancellor said complete mechanisation had been achieved only in rice and sugarcane because these crops achieved uniform maturity.
Personnel demonstrating the mechanised rice transplanter at the wetland farm of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore on Friday. –Photo: S.SIVA SARAVANAN
The university had invited the company to display and demonstrate its equipment and machinery so that the scientists of TNAU could test them and recommend to the Government for purchase by farmers.

“Our aim is to identify youth and create a hub to purchase farm machinery to be rented out to farmers. Infusion and effective use of machinery in farming is the only way to sustain interest for the profession among the youth. The university is trying to bring all crops to uniform maturity to make mechanisation possible for their cultivation,” Mr. Ramasamy added.

He urged companies that were developing and manufacturing farm machinery to not only to cater to farmers who had large land holdings, but also small and marginal farmers.

Personnel from the company demonstrated machines such as the rotopuddler, wet leveller, automatic tray seeding machine, direct paddy seeder, rice transplanter, power weeder and conoweeder, and ear head combine harvester.

There was an urgent need to develop sophisticated machinery that were farmer-friendly not only in terms of

cultivation effectiveness, but also comfort levels, for example, providing air conditioned cabin for the drivers of tractors, Mr. Ramasamy added.

He said the university was open to similar demonstrations by other companies too. Rajan Agarwal, Crop Solutions, Escorts Limited, said the company was keen to provide farmer-friendly machines to farmers using the latest technology.

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Paddy growers asked to take steps against leaf folder, stem borer

 Coimbatore, July 5: 

Farmers in Tamil Nadu have been advised to take adequate measures to protect their crop from pest and disease.

The Centre for Plant Protection Studies at the Farm Varsity here has made a forecast of the incidence of pest and disease in some of the major agricultural and horticultural crops for the month of July.

The forecast is based on the pest and disease surveillance reports from different districts of Tamil Nadu.

“It is expected to be below the Economic Threshold Level,” say CPPS experts.

Citing reports, the experts said leaf folder and stem borer have been noticed in the paddy crop in Tirunelveli, Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Pudukottai and Salem districts.

“Set up light trap to attract and kill the adult moth and if need be spray neem seed kernel extract,” CPPS experts suggested.

For managing thrips in the nursery and in early transplanted rice, farmers have been recommended to spray Phosphamidon 40 SL 50 ml for 20 cent nursery area.

Coastal area farmers have been advised to spray Kocide (Copper Hydroxide) for the management of bacterial leaf blight in rice.

Farmers have been asked to install yellow sticky traps and spray neem seed kernel extract if needed to get rid of these pests.

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Use of biofertilizer in paddy to withstand drought

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) has advocated the use of Methylobacterium biofertilizer, popularly called Pink Pigmented Facultative Methylotrophs (PPFMs), to protect crops from heat and drought conditions.

“Methylobacterium” developed by the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) and available in liquid and powder forms could be a boon to farmers in this drought-prone district, who mostly cultivate paddy in rain-fed areas, said R. Durai Singam, Professor and Head, KVK, TNAU.

Explaining the benefits of Methylobacterium at the Agricultural grievance day meeting at the Collectorate here on Friday, he said spraying of the biofertilizer once in 15 days from the vegetation stage could help protect the crops from solar radiation and enhance growth and yield by 8 per cent.

PPFMs, naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in plants, soil, dust and various fresh water supplies, live by utilising the methanol evolved from leaves as the source of carbon and energy and in response, secrete essential nutrients such as cytokinin, auxins and nitrogen, vital for plants, Mr Singam said. “This can benefit the crops in many ways as it improves the chlorophyll intensity and increases the leaf area,” he said adding that increase in leaf area improved the yield. It also helps to considerably reduce flower drops, especially in chillies and pulses, he said.

Similarly, the seed germination and root dipping would help in early growth and to improve the vigour of the seedlings, he said.

The spraying of the biofertilizer had been successfully tried for the first time in the Cauvery delta region last year, when paddy crops on vast areas, faced the danger of withering for want of water. The TNAU sprayed the symbiotic organisms and saved the crop on hundreds of acres in the region, he said.

Farmers could buy the liquid at Rs. 300 per litre and use 200 ml mixed with water per acre, Mr Singam said.

Farmers could contact KVK for farm trial and demonstrations.

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Where paddy requires only drops of water

Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu : The field is almost dry but for brief wet patches. Yet, the paddy crop in it is prosperous with grain-rich panicles looking down the earth. The small plot of land located in a nondescript village near Polur thus shines in a State that still debates on whether its farmers can go for Kuruvai crop as there is no promise of water, by saying “You vie for gallons to finish a task that can be done with drops”.

The quarter of an acre in Pallakkollai village turns out to be the pioneering model in Tamil Nadu to raise paddy with drip irrigation. V.Annamalai, who cultivated it, beams with pride. He successfully broke the notion that ‘plenty of water should always clog the paddy field’.

Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), social service arm of TVS group, that is working on development models in the area, came up with the idea and assistance for laying drip irrigation pipes.

Having an innovative streak, Mr. Annamalai, an ex-serviceman, readily accepted. Now the crop is only ten days away from reaping.

Explaining the advantages, Mr.Annamalai told The Hindu:“Before planting paddy in conventional method, we need to do puddling which requires about 50 hours of watering from motorized pump set/ per acre over a period of 20 days.

While cultivating with drip irrigation, I never did puddling. I just did dry ploughing, slightly dampened the land and directly sowed the seed instead of transplanting the seedlings. Thus, drip irrigation saved plenty of water and labour even at the preparation level. In the post sowing level too, it requires only one-third of the water needed to irrigate the crop in conventional method”.

S.Vaithilingam, district manager of Jain Irrigation Systems that set up drip in this field, said “raising an acre of paddy would require 13 lakh litres of water under conventional method. Under drip, it requires only about 4 lakh litres”.
Seed efficient

Apart from water the method is seed efficient too. “It required only 1 kilogram of seeds to sow the entire plot of quarter acre. If it were in conventional transplantation method, it would have required 12 kg of seeds,” Mr.Annamalai added. When asked about how he feels about the potential yield, he said, “normally one can reap about 6-7 bags of paddy from quarter acre. This drip-irrigated plot, I hope, would fetch about 10 bags, as the crop grew exceptionally well”.

K.S.Krishnan, field director of SST, who inspired the farmer into trying the method, told The Hindu: “Since fertilizers are mixed with water and precisely directed at roots each plant has produced about 40-50 tillerings despite adverse climate, as against 15-20 produced in conventional method. This will definitely result in better yield. Other paddy farmers too should adopt the method and save water”.

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Saving traditional rice varieties is the need of the hour

With traditional rice varieties of the state vanishing, farmers and researchers foresee a doomsday as the high-yielding paddy crops, that are being cultivated nowadays, could make the land barren in the years to come.

Of the over 4,000 traditional rice varieties, even less than 20 are being cultivated in the state.

These traditional varieties should be conserved through community seed banks and cultivation, the researchers said, adding that farmers who do so be given special status.

Stating that saving the seeds of traditional rice varieties was the need of the hour, former associate director of Regional Agricultural Research Station, Kumarakom, K G Padmakumar said apart from the government, the community too should get engaged in the task.

Padmakumar, who is engaged in the preservation of seeds of traditional rice varieties, said the government should take an initiative to provide better price for the produce of such varieties.

“The present system of fixing price of rice must change. Traditional varieties might not yield much and the farmer might not get a good price for it. The government must fix a higher price for the rice cultivated from traditional varieties,” he said.

“Seeds of about 100 to 200 varieties are available with the green bank of the Agricultural University. But, we have lost all other varieties,” he said.

However, Agriculture Minister K P Mohanan said the government had always given assistance to those who cultivate traditional varieties.

On the demand for a better price, he said some traditional varieties like pokkali and navara fetched high profit.

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Rs. 312.89-crore drought relief package for non-delta paddy farmers

Tamilnadu: A Rs.1,755-crore package of drought relief measures was unveiled on Friday for non-Cauvery delta districts in the State.

Of this package, six components were meant for about 17.9 lakh farmers, who had suffered over 50 per cent crop loss. The farmers, for a variety of crops, would receive a total compensation of Rs. 835.21 crore.

Making an announcement in the Assembly, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said the package was based on the assessment made by a high-level committee headed by Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam after visiting 18 districts and interacting with representatives of farmers and district officials, apart from reports from the district Collectors.

A sum of Rs. 312.89 crore had been earmarked for giving compensation of Rs. 5,000 per acre to 6,25,481 farmers who raised paddy over 6,25,786 acres. As per the Central norms on disaster relief, even small and marginal paddy farmers, experiencing more than 50 per cent crop loss, were entitled only to Rs. 2,429 per acre. Insurance companies would settle claims of those farmers who had insured their crops.

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Rice at subsidised rates, a relief for residents

 Tamilnadu : Residents affected by the escalating cost got a relief in State government’s announcement to sell rice in the open market at a subsidised rate.

Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam said that the government would offload one lakh tonnes of rice in the open market and sell it through Amudham and other cooperatives for a subsidised rate of Rs. 20 per kg.

This measure to control rising price was widely welcomed. Residents said that the government must ensure quality of the rice too.

R. Padmasundari, a resident of Mogappair, said: “I have to shell out Rs. 48 for one kg for raw rice now. This measure will be a boon to residents like me who spend a minimum of Rs. 700 a month for rice alone. But it must be cleaned and packaged properly.”

Residents also complained that sometimes rice that they buy have a stale stench probably because it is doubled boiled to prevent breakage.

Besides plans to continue distribution of toor dhal and urad dhal for Rs. 30/kg and palm oil at Rs. 25 per litre through PDS outlets till March 31, 2014, the State government also proposes to open farm fresh consumer outlets in urban areas to provide vegetables at a nominal rate.

Horticulture Department and cooperatives would open such outlets to form a direct link between farmers and consumers.

S. Vimala, a resident of Ambattur, said that ‘Uzhavar Sandhai’, which was opened with a similar concept in Ambattur has not taken off properly as residents do not have access to it.

The new consumer outlets must be opened in residential localities or in a market area.

Sources in cooperative societies said that selling rice at a subsidised rate in the open market will certainly bring down the prices.

Some cooperatives were already selling vegetables at a cheaper price.

Such outlets or cooperative stores must be given sufficient cold storage facility to keep the perishable goods fresh.

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